Someone once described a football game as 22 players on the field who desperately need rest and 22,000 spectators in the stands who desperately need exercise. Unfortunately in the spiritual realm the church is often a lot like the football game. We hold a skewed view of who is supposed to do the work of the ministry. We say, "Well, we pay the pastor, isn't he supposed to do it?" This sad attitude is not at all what the apostle Paul portrays in Eph. 4:11-16.
After making his main action statement
in v. 11 about the giving of gifted leadership to the church,
Paul uses the word 'for' in v.12. This little word (Greek pros)
in this construction expresses a goal aimed at or a purpose.
It shows the purpose of the gifted individuals in v. 11. I believe
that apostles and prophets are not for today, but that debate
is not the purpose of this article. Evangelists evidently had
a ministry like church-planting missionaries. In the local church
today pastors and teachers are used of God for this equipping
ministry. Pastor, by the way, is synonymous with elder, overseer
(shepherd = pastor) 1 Pet. 5:1, 2.
So if pastors and teachers are for
the purpose of equipping the saints, then who are these
saints that should be equipped? You can probably guess that the
answer is not the Roman Catholic saints like St Theresa or St
Christopher. The word saint means sanctified
one or one set apart for a purpose.
(1 Cor 1:30) But of Him you are in Christ
Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God; and righteousness and
sanctification and redemption;
(1 Cor 6:11) And such were some of you.
But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified
in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.
(1 Cor 1:2) To the church of God which
is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called
to be saints....
Everyone who is a Christian has been
sanctified (in position—the practice comes gradually), so Paul
addresses most of his epistles to the saints, as
in Eph. 1:1, Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will
of God, To the saints who are in Ephesus. In other words,
this is not a special class of Christians. We are all saints!
So, who should be equipped? ALL the Saints, every Christian,
every one os us. Paul also uses several parallel statements.
In v. 13 he says, until we all come, in v. 14 that
we should. And in v. 16 he uses the phrases whole
body, every joint supplies, and every
part does its share.
This completely knocks out the old idea
of a distinction between lay and professional
in ministry. For too long this false distinction has kept Christians
looking to their leaders to do evangelism, discipleship of new
believers, counseling of hurting believers, and even to tell
them what to believe. The church has become an army of a few
soldiers with thousands of support troops. We need to regain
the biblical concept of the whole church doing the ministry.
Many Christians are afraid of being
involved in the ministry. They believe they do not have the ability.
It does not matter how simple you think your gifts are—see what
Paul says in 1 Cor 1:26 (NKJV):
"For you see your calling, brethren,
that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not
many noble, are called., But God has chosen the foolish things
of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the
weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are
The history of the Church is NOT the
story of the shining lights, the big voices, the ones who preached
to thousands, its the story of the Saints being equipped
and doing the work of the ministry.
I find no other major purpose statement
in the New Testament than this one for the person who fills the
office of pastor or teacher. So the leaders in every church have
as their job to equip ALL the Saints for ministry. Now use your
high school English and turn that around to the passive voice.
If it is the Pastors job to equip the Saints...then it
is the job of the Saints
Church leadership cannot work with unwilling
people, you and I must remember...
IS CALLED TO THE MINISTRY!
If you want to serve the Lord Jesus Christ, present yourself
the leaders of your church. Let them know you want to serve in
whatever way the Lord gifts you for and opens up for you to do.
If you dont have the knowledge, they will help you get
it. If you dont have the skills, they will help you develop
them. But you must first be willing and available.
But now that you are ready to be equipped...
In our next study, we will take a look
at what is involved in this equipping.